By Marjorie Calkins, Dist. 81
Vermillionville is located on what is now the Tonica road, about eleven
miles southwest of Ottawa. It is in Deer Park township.
It was laid out and owned by Isaac Dimmick in 1836. He came to Illinois from Wayne County, Pennsylvania, in 1833, and settled in Vermillionville in 1836. He was county commissioner for several terms.
If one had traveled on this road about 1840 he would have found this village a thriving and busy place. The settlers from the surrounding country came here, not only to get their mail, but to do their trading.
The post office was located in the house that is now owned by Herbert Patterson. This house is nearly a hundred years old and is still in good condition. One of the things of importance is an old Dutch oven that still can be used. John Woods was the first postmaster; he was also justice of the peace for several years. He lived in the house where Thomas Pearse now lives. The mail was carried to this post office three times a week by stage coaches, which ran from Chicago to St. Louis. Later it was carried on the "Star Route" from Ottawa to Tonica.
A tavern was kept by John Clark in 1839. This was where the Ellsworth home now is. John Clark was their great-grandfather. The house was part log and part frame. Meals were served to the passengers that were traveling on the stage coaches.
Horses that were used on these coaches were kept in the barn that still stands on this farm.
A store was located between the road that goes past the present schoolhouse and the Herbert Patterson house. The first owner of this store was a Mr. Davis.
There was a wagon shop across from the cemetery. Above this a Masonic Lodge was organized and meetings were held there. The old charter is kept by the Masonic Lodge in Peru, Illinois.
On January 15, 1838, a meeting was called for the purpose of building a church. James Leonard, Ira Peck and Isaac Dimmick were chosen to see about raising money and building it. The land for the church and cemetery was deeded by Isaac Dimmick and Bettsy Hatch. The building was started in 1838. James Green and Job Lincoln were the carpenters. They ran out of money to go on with the building, so it was 1842 before the church was completed. They used planks for seats, and the inside was not finished off very good. Some called it "God's barn." Services had been held in the schoolhouse before the church was finished.
It was a Baptist church until 1857, and a Congregational church later.
Rev. Thomas Powell, who was the first pastor of this church, preached there for nine years. He did much for the Baptist faith in La Salle County. The parsonage was located at the place where George Millikin now lives. There was no services in this church for many years, the last record of any was in 1885. It was torn down about 1922. It was one of the oldest churches in the county.
The cemetery was located just north of the church. Some of the oldest graves are David Hatch, who died in 1835, John Hullinger, and Sophia Cummings in 1836. Several soldiers are buried there. In one family three sons were killed in the Civil War. In the southwest corner is a grave that is of special interest. It is that of an old Negro slave named Henry Capler, who lived in a shack with his dog, southwest of where Reuben Studebaker now lives. He earned his living by working around for the different neighbors. People thought a great deal of him, and when he died all but one man was in favor of burying him in the cemetery. There his monument stands today with the following words written on it: Henry Capler, born a slave in N. Carolina, in 1821; escaped from slavery in 1845; died a free man May 11, 1879.
The first schoolhouse was located near where Charles Ott now lives. It was made of logs. The present schoolhouse was built about 1850. This was about one mile north of the old site.
Dr. James Bullock was one of the earliest settlers, and also the first doctor. He lived in the Patterson house, and practiced in this community for forty years. He was well liked by everyone, and was always ready to help with anything that would better the country. When he died, his son Frank went on with his practice.
When the Illinois Central Railroad was being built, around 1847, William Reddick, who was the State Representative at that time, wrote to Judge Isaac Dimmick and told him he thought it could be arranged so the railroad would go through Vermillionville. Judge Dimmick wrote back to him that they did not care to have one run through, as it would disturb the peace and quietness of their little village. So the railroad was built through Tonica, Illinois. If the railroad had gone through Vermillionville there might have been some trace of this village left. As it is, nothing remains except dwelling houses, the present "Ville" schoolhouse and the well-kept cemetery.